York residents support new homes

A survey of York residents reveals that the vast majority want more homes built in the city. Sharon Dale reports.

York house prices are a concern for local people.

While York councillors voted to minimise housing development in the city, a new survey has revealed that the vast majority of residents are keen to see new-builds and want more affordable homes to rent and buy.

The research by QA is the first independent study of its kind to be carried out in York and highlights fears that house prices in Yorkshire’s most expensive city are out of reach for many of those who work there.

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Taking a representative sample of every council ward in York, 800 people were questioned face to face and by telephone. The survey also included 83 people who commute to work in York.

A total of 93 per cent of respondents agreed that new homes are needed to cater for young people, local people and for those who work in the city but are forced to live in cheaper areas outside.

Of those quizzed, 81 per cent said affordable housing should be a top priority for the council. Only three per cent said no new development was needed.

The study was commissioned by local landowners who want to build Galtres garden village, which they say would help York to meet government housebuilding targets by providing an extra 1,753 homes, almost a third of which would be affordable for rent and shared ownership. The proposed village, near Monks Cross between the A64 and the A1237 ring road, was excluded from York’s Local Plan. It was placed on a reserve list after councillors rejected advice from their planning officers, who suggested increasing the number of sites deemed suitable for development.

Every local authority area is now required to have a Local Plan, which identifies land for housing and sets out a strategy for future building to satisfy local need and economic growth.

York’s is among the most controversial, after the council missed the deadline for submission amid threats that the Government would step in and take over the process. It renegotiated a deadline this month, which it looks set to hit.

The document has now been approved by the council’s executive and, if the full council ratify it on May 17, it will go to a government planning inspector, who will decide whether to approve or refuse it.

The plan proposes 867 new homes every year until 2033, which is less than the 1,070 per annum suggested by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

A spokesperson for York Council says: “The council has given planning permission for over 8,300 homes in the last 11 years, and under the proposals contained in the Local Plan, another 867 will be built every year. We work with developers to secure that as much of this housing as possible is affordable to rent or buy, and the Local Plan sets ambitious targets to deliver around 4,000 more affordable homes over its lifetime.”

Planning consultant Eamonn Keogh, who is advising the Galtres Garden Village Consortium, believes that the Local Plan is likely to be rejected by the inspector and adds that the Galtres proposal is a solution that would satisfy government targets and local need. He says: “Creating a site where 30 per cent of the homes are affordable is rare.

“This village will also be a mixed community. It’s not all executive houses and apartments.

“The other issue York has is the speed at which developments can be delivered. This site has no infrastructure issues and work can start as soon as planning permission is granted. It can be completed in phases within 10 years and the affordable homes can be built first.”

The proposed scheme is on 93 hectares of land to the north of the Northern Ring Road and Monks Cross, with 1,753 properties, from detached houses to bungalows and apartments. It includes 500 affordable homes for rent and for shared ownership, 290 retirement homes and a 64-bed care home.

The self-contained settlement would have a community hub, village green, a school, doctor’s surgery, shops and a country park.

The QA study shows that 79 per cent of York residents want to see the Galtres village included in the Local Plan, while seven per cent do not. A slim majority of 55 per cent were happy with the location and 24 per cent were concerned about traffic implications. The Galtres consortium says it is proposing to work with the council to address traffic and congestion and maximise the benefits of widening the ring road in the area, saying it would use the A64 as a key access road, encouraging traffic away from Earswick and Huntington.

Martin Hawthorne, who had a 30-year career with housing associations before becoming a director of the Galtres Garden Development Company, said: “Commissioning independent research was a risk for us because the results might not have gone in our favour but they show that most people in York want more housing and more affordable homes and they are in favour of our garden village.

He adds: “The City of York is under immense pressure by the Government to address a significant housing shortfall, particularly for an ageing population and the lower-paid.

“We want to work closely with the council’s new housing development company and Homes England as partner on the scheme and so it will be part-owned by the community. No other scheme offers the type of arrangement.”

A York Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have received a representation from planning agents on behalf of Galtres Village Development Company and that this will be submitted in full, alongside other representations received through the recent consultation, to the planning inspector for consideration during the public examination of the York Local Plan.”